Michael Bowden hoping to join Cubs’ rotation in 2013

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Michael Bowden was drafted as a starter by the Red Sox back in 2005 and had success in that role for the first four years of his minor league career. And yet he’s made only two career starts at the major league level against 67 career relief appearances.

But that script could be flipped next summer.

According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the 26-year-old right-hander is stretching himself out this offseason in the Dominican Winter League with the hope of getting a chance to compete for a spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation next spring. If the experiment doesn’t wind up producing promising results, he will simply be shifted into a long relief role sometime before Opening Day.

Bowden, who registered a 2.95 ERA and 1.26 WHIP across 39 2/3 relief innings in 2012, has gone at least five frames in each of his last two starts for Águilas Cibaeñas — a team that also boasts former major leaguers Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada, and top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras.

Five minor leaguers suspended for drug violations

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NEW YORK (AP) Five minor league pitchers have been suspended for drug violations.

The commissioner’s office announced the penalties Tuesday.

Three of the players are part of the Toronto system. Right-hander Juan Jimenez and left-hander Naswell Paulino were each suspended for 72 games, and righty Jol Concepcion was banned for 60 games. Jimenez, Paulino and Concepcion tested for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

Jimenez and Paulino are on the roster for the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, and Concepcion is on the roster of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays.

Kansas City minor leaguer Travis Eckert and free-agent lefty Kevin Duchene each tested positive for a drug of abuse. Eckert was suspended for 50 games following a second positive test, and Duchene received a 100-game penalty following a third positive test.

Eckert is on the roster for Single-A Lexington of the South Atlantic League.

There have been 79 suspensions under the minor league drug program this year and five under the major league program.